Luminaries in the fall
Decorating for Christmas at our house includes lining our sidewalks with electric luminaries. To make that job easier the next year, when I take them down after Christmas I disassemble them and put them into the boxes they came in rather than just stowing them as a tangled mess.
Consequently, each year I reassemble them, bulbs and all, before I stake them out after which I put on the brown bag-looking plastic covers (not an easy task). Usually, once they’re assembled and staked in place, I’d plug them in only to find that several bulbs didn’t work. So, I’d remove those “bags” and replace the bulbs.
After about eight or 10 years I realized I probably damaged those bulbs while dragging the luminaries around the yard. Hence, I’ve started waiting to install the bulbs until after I’ve staked the luminaries in place and I plug them in before I put on the “bags.” To conclude this introductory story, last year I dropped the box of bulbs and while recovering from the horror that all of them may’ve been blown, I wondered if any of them could’ve survived the fall. While most did, some didn’t. Anyway, I began thinking about our Christian life and God’s grace toward us.
Contrary to very popular belief about eternal security, the possibility that we can become alienated from Christ and fall as Christians to the point of losing our salvation is evident in several New Testament passages (some of which will be cited in this article – read them as you go). Evil desires lead to temptation that, if allowed to mature into sin, gives birth to death, even for Christians (James 1: 13-15, 21; Romans 6: 23; Revelation 20: 14, 15; 2: 4, 5; 3: 1-6; Exodus 32; 33).
Therefore, we’re to throw off the sin that so easily entangles to keep from becoming re-entangled and become worse off than if we’d never become Christians to begin with (Hebrews 12: 1-3; 10: 26-31; 2 Peter 2: 20-22). Countering the belief that if someone doesn’t live as a Christian should, they weren’t saved to begin with, citing 2 Peter 3: 17, our preacher stated it well that one cannot fall from a secure position they’ve never had.
Eternal salvation is guaranteed only to those who are eternally faithful (Revelation 2: 10; Matthew 10: 22; Luke 21: 19). Christians are to illuminate the lost world by reflecting Christ’s image (2 Corinthians 4: 1-7; Matthew 5: 14-16; 1 Peter 2: 11, 12).
If we live as the world does we’ll lose our saltiness (illuminating influence) and be thrown out and trampled under foot (Mathew 5: 13; 25: 30). So, we must continue to base our life on Christ and his word in obedience (Matthew 7: 25: 13: 20-23; Deuteronomy 29: 19; Revelation 21: 27). Even then, we’re to be careful because pride in standing firm in the faith, itself, can cause us to fall (1 Corinthians 10: 12). Additionally, we’re warned about trying to attain our salvation by modifying God’s plan (Galatians 5: 1-4; Revelation 22: 18, 19).
None of this means we’ll be sin-free (we shouldn’t even claim to be sin-free – 1 John 1: 5-9; Romans 3: 23). Living faithfully means that, having put to death our former life of sin, we continue to put to death our misdeeds by the Spirit God gives us when we become a Christian (Romans 6: 1-5; 8: 9-14; Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Acts 2: 38, 39). If we’ll just follow God’s plan by avoiding the wrong and doing the right, which includes repenting and getting forgiveness when we do sin, he’ll cause us to stand firm, helping us to survive the times we fall short of his glory, while keeping us from falling to the point of no return (2 Corinthians 1: 21, 22; 1 Peter 5: 8-11; Hebrews 6: 4-8).
We must know God’s plan to follow it. That takes personal and corporate Bible study (2 Peter 3: 18; 2 Timothy 2: 15; 1 Timothy 4: 15, 16; Hebrews 3: 12-14). Otherwise, we’ll forfeit the deposit (surety) God gave us (Ephesians 4: 30; Genesis 6: 3-8; 1 Samuel 16: 14; Joshua 7: 11, 12; 1 Corinthians 15: 58). In fact, lack of growth leads one to forget he’s been forgiven; consequently we’re to ensure our salvation through growth (2 Peter 1: 5-11).
We should be horrified by the effect each sin has on our relationship with God and swiftly act to recover from those falls. Salvation is a lifelong process that can be completely lost because we don’t survive a fall by simply seeking forgiveness (Philippians 3: 13-16; 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27). Have you started the process by crucifying your old life according to God’s plan?
Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ